Microsoft scales down SQL Server

Microsoft this quarter will ship a database for handheld systems as well as a long-awaited desktop version of its SQL Server database.

The company is also expected to make a move that could signal a gradual phase out of its popular Access database for PCs.

Microsoft's Pocket Access for Windows CE database will be announced at the Professional Developers Conference in Denver this month. Also due is the SQL Server 7.0 Desktop Edition database for Windows platforms.

Replacement

And as part of its long-term goal of one common data store, Microsoft plans to offer an embedded version of SQL Server 7.0 as a replacement for the Jet database engine in the Access database, according to company officials.

Analysts concluded that these moves mean that Jet and Access could go the way of the dinosaur.

"Microsoft is seeking the holy grail of a single common data store, and I can't imagine that they would look any further than SQL 7.0.

That's where the company has thrown the lion's share of its focus and talent," said Dwight Davis, a Microsoft analyst at Summit Strategies, in Washington.

Microsoft Pocket Access for Windows CE will be announced along with Version 2.0 of Windows CE. Pocket Access will have the capability to communicate and replicate with SQL Server 7.0, according to Doug Leland, product manager for SQL Server at Microsoft.

Rivals Sybase and Oracle have already announced database products for Windows CE.

The embedded version of SQL Server 7.0 will be available when Office 2000 ships, and users can install it as the back end for Access, in place of Jet, Leland said.

This is simply a choice for the user, and the Jet 4.1 engine, also shipping with Office 2000, will be "a significant upgrade", Leland added. But the company's long-term goal is to offer one data store and data application, Leland said.

Microsoft will make the migration from Jet to SQL Server 7.0 "very, very easy", Leland said.

Despite competitors' plans, Leland said the company was not seeing enough interest in a Windows CE version of SQL Server 7.0.

A Sybase official said his company has an edge over Microsoft in Windows CE database deployment, because of Sybase's installed base in sales-force automation.

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